Troy & Rachel’s Sunrise River Elopement

A love story sparked by a baggage claim meeting that led to a wedding adventure on the River Of No Return

Life has a funny way of happening and often its path is not linear but it leads us right to where we’re supposed to be. This blog shares a story about an untraditional couple and their elopement on the banks of the Salmon River.

A bride and groom stand together on a jet boat on the Salmon River in Idaho. This couple eloped and took a private jet boat to their ceremony location. The boat is parked against a white sand beach.

About the Couple

Troy and Rachel dated for a bit in their early twenties but ended up going their separate ways. Four years later they reconnected by chance in a baggage claim and realized that their love story wasn’t over. In mid 2023 they decided to get married. In a few short months, they planned a two-day wedding adventure with a jet boat tour and lodge stay on the Salmon River in Idaho.

Their River Elopement Adventure

Troy and Rachel reached out to me 6 weeks before wanting to elope here in Idaho. Having a wedding experience that was unique and focused on them was an important detail in their elopement vision. We worked together to create an elopement that included a private boat tour to their elopement destination on the Salmon River. They eloped at sunrise to ensure that they didn’t have to share the river with anyone else.

A groom proposes to his bride during their elopement. The couple is standing on a boat ramp with the Salmon River behind them. The groom is down on one knee.

The Proposal

It’s not unusual for eloping couples to not have had a formal proposal. Troy and Rachel made the decision to get married without a proposal, however, Troy felt like he didn’t want to skip this moment. Unbeknownst to Rachel, he worked directly with me to set up a surprise proposal at the beginning of their elopement. After Troy proposed they hopped on the boat and headed up river to find their ceremony spot.

A White Sand Beach Ceremony

A few miles upriver Troy and Rachel found a beach that provided a pristine backdrop for their wedding ceremony. They played a round of rock-paper-scissors to decide who would say their vows first. The odds were not in Troy’s favor and Rachel began their ceremony with her vows. The sun was just finding the river as they exchanged their vows and rings. This lighting effect made the most beautiful photographs!

A bride reads wedding vows to her groom. The couple is standing in the shade and a sliver of sunshine is lighting up the mountains above them
A couple exchanges vows in the early morning light. The groom is reading to his bride from a vow book. The couple is standing on a white sand beach with the Salmon River stretching behind them. She is wearing a blue dress with a silver flower pattern. He is wearing gray pants and a blue shirt.
A bride smiles as her groom reads his wedding vows to her. They couple is wearing blue toned wedding attire.
A couple exchanged rings during their elopement ceremony. The couple is standing on a beach and the Salmon River is behind them.
A bride and groom exchange their first kiss during the elopement ceremony on the banks of the Salmon River in Idaho. The couple is wearing blue toned outfits. An orange toned bouquet of fresh flowers lays at the bride's feet.
A couple holds out a wedding sign with their custom elopement details. The sign is made to look like an Idaho license plate.

Their Celebration & Details

They celebrated their ceremony with tea and breakfast. Tea in the morning was an important ritual in their relationship and it was the perfect detail to include in their elopement. They brought along customized tea mugs for the occasion. Personalized wedding details are some of my favorite things to photograph! Rachel ordered an Idaho license plate wedding sign and a bouquet of fresh flowers from my garden.

Portraits on the River

After breakfast we spent some time taking photos along the river. The canyon has pockets of shade during the morning and we used these to our advantage. By 10 AM the sun had completely washed over the canyon. We took some final photos in the sunshine before Rachel and Troy ditched their formal attire.

A bride and groom exchange their first kiss during their elopement ceremony. The sun is lighting up a large river and mountains behind the couple.
A wedding couple stands on a blue jet boat during their elopement. The bride is wearing a blue dress and the couple is smiling at each other.
A bride and groom walk down a beach together on the Salmon River. The groom is holding an orange toned bouquet and the hand of his bride. The couple is laughing together. There is a blue jet boat in the background.

Embracing all that the River Offers

Troy and Rachel spent the rest of their elopement day checking out historic sites along the Salmon River. They spent the night at China Bar, a guest ranch accessible only by boat. The next morning they boated out and continued on their vacation.

China Bar lodge on the Salmon River.

Kind Words about this River Elopement

I was honored to have had the opportunity to photograph Troy and Rachel’s river elopement. My husband and I own Whitewater Expeditions and together our businesses offer river elopements on the Salmon. If this elopement day inspired you to ditch tradition and get married on the river, I’d love to chat with you!